Northam signs new laws establishing ‘Marcus’ alert system, sentencing reform

Northam signs new laws establishing ‘Marcus’ alert system, sentencing reform
Gov. Ralph Northam (Source: Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Governor Ralph Northam signed new laws on Thursday that advance sentencing reform and establish a statewide ‘Marcus’ alert system.

The ‘Marcus’ alert will establish a statewide mental health awareness response and community understanding services. The measure also promotes a behavioral health response to individuals in crisis and also limits the role of law enforcement. The law is named after a 24-year-old man who was shot and killed by a Richmond police officer on May 14, 2018, while experiencing a mental health crisis.

Northam also signed Senate Bill 5007, which allows judges to decide sentences in criminal cases unless a defendant requests sentencing by jury.

The governor also proposed changes to a bill that protects certain tenants that have been impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“He added a technical amendment, which clearly defines the adverse actions that may not be taken against tenants based on payment history or an eviction for nonpayment of rent that occurred during the pandemic,” a release said.

Northam also revised the state’s biennial budget by sending 10 amendments to the General Assembly.

“Among other amendments, the Governor included enabling language that will allow the Commonwealth to implement redistricting reform in the state constitution, as passed by Virginia voters on Election Day. Governor Northam also proposed an additional $1 million to fund an independent investigation into the culture at the Virginia Military Institute,” a release said.

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